It seems that I have begun updating this blog when I am about to move on from a country. Now I am waiting to leave Quito airport, exactly two weeks since I arrived via Peru. It's grey and drizzly, a sign that its time to move on. Strange to think I was here over two months ago at the end of my Colombia trip - feels forever ago.
It was just moving into low season when I arrived in Ecuador, and everywhere seems very quiet, apart from the zillions of expats who have decided to live or retire here. That's one of the things that struck me very early on, traveling through Vilcabamba and Cuenca; the number of foreigners who have decided Ecuadorean climes make for a nicer life, and have bought or opened new businesses, cafes and galleries, here. It all feels very comfortable and familiar for the western traveler, lots of eco and vegetarian friendly consciousness, but slightly...surreal to me. Not very authentic Ecuador. Who knows - maybe that is the real Ecuador?
Anyway, I have to confess it didn't stop me from indulging in all the familiar international foods that I had been yearning for in Peru. More rice with that? No thank you. Although on more than one occasion I was disappointed by what actually turned up on my plate - only because they didn't quite match my expectations. Hash browns in Ecuador are not the same as hash browns at home :-(
I decided early on to forgo the Galapagos - found it hard to justify spending the small fortune that would otherwise be enough to feed me for a month in Peru. But there is plenty of beautiful scenery, and lots more wildlife/birdwatching to be done elsewhere in the country. I visited Montanita and Puerto Lopez, where I went whale watching (incredible - but important lesson: beer + cocktails + late night before sitting on rocky boat for hours does not a happy traveler make. Thought I was going to be the first one to test the wind/blowback theory, but felt better after food). Also visited the so-called Poor-man's Galapagos, the isla de Platas. My travel buddy sensibly decided not to bother. But the blue footed boobies were kinda cute.
Visited Cuenca and Banos, a gorgeous little town surrounded by hills and the Avenue of volcanoes. Ecuador is very much an outdoors-activity kinda country, and it seems trekking/biking/horseriding/bird watching is available just about everywhere. I did some trekking in Banos (and of course, tried out the hot baths the town is famous for), but generally just took it easy and enjoyed staying in one place longer than 24 hrs. Ecuador is a lot smaller than Peru, so it was nice traveling leisurely rather than the manic pace of Peru.
But that's enough of relaxing; feeling rather restless again, so looking forward to some more adventures. Off to Lima, then 20 hr bus to the border for northern Chile. Now that's travelling ;-)
PS. Just realized its exactly three months tomorrow since I set off for south america. S**t.